F or NF - Part 5 of 5

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 05/24/2016
Level: Intermediate

F or NF?

Due to (constant) student request, I have given in and written about this annoyingly tricky topic.

How hard can it be? "Just tell us Larry, which bids are forcing and which are not."

It is very hard. It requires study, memory and sometimes partnership agreement (PA).

F versus GF

In this series, it is important to recognize the difference between Forcing (F) and Game Forcing (GF). "Forcing" (F) means your partner "cannot" pass the bid. If he does pass, he does so at his own peril. I might do it once a decade. Suppose my partner opens and I dredge up a response with a very weak shapely hand. He makes a forcing rebid but I bail out with a pass. I'd better be right! "Game Forcing" (GF) means neither partner can pass below game.


In this 5-part series, I have broken it down as follows:

  1. Our opening bid, response and opener's rebid (with no interference)
  2. The fourth bid and beyond of our auction (with no interference)
  3. After Overcalls (by us or the opponents)
  4. Auctions with Doubles
  5. Other Auctions/Conventions

In this article, we address #5:

 5) Other auctions/Conventions

When partner makes a conventional call, it is almost always forcing. Here are some examples:

A) Michaels Cuebid

 1♠ 2♠    

North's 2♠ shows at least 5-5 in the majors and is forcing. Can South Pass?  What if he has, say:

♠ 3  
♥ 2  
♦ QJ109872  
♣ J432

In theory, South shouldn't pass, since North could hold game in his hand, something like:

♠ AKQ654  
♥ AKJ543 
♦ --  
♣ 5

However, such a hand is unlikely, so I suppose South could take a chance and pass a Michaels bid (once a decade).


B) Stayman or a Transfer

I can't imagine ever passing one of these (unless the notrump opener psyched his opening--something I've never done).


C) A notrump bid for takeout

It is hard to imagine passing a notrump bid for takeout (like an unusual 2NT or a 4NT takeout).  If partner asks you to choose a suit, it would be strange to leave him in notrump.  Here's an example where I suppose you might do it:


 1♠ 2NT Pass ??

South has:

♠ QJ1098  
♥ QJ9876  
♦ 3  
♣ 2
 Maybe Pass is best.  This also seems like a once-in-a-decade situation.


D) Gambling 3NT.

This is certainly not forcing. The 3NT opener is showing a solid minor. The responder should pass if he has everything else stopped, for example:


3NT Pass ??  

East should pass with:

♠ KQ87 
♥ AQ876  
♦ AJ3 
♣ 2.


E) Other Conventions. In general, an artificial bid is not meant to be passed. It is intended as forcing. If you ever do pass such a bid, there would have to be a remarkable reason to do so.